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Like any good awards show, this year’s Tony ceremony—which honors the best in Broadway theater—promises plenty of suspense. Will the Cyndi Lauper musical Kinky Boots, nominated for 13 awards, sweep the evening, or will Tim Minchin’s Matilda the Musical, adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s story and nominated for an even dozen, be crowned the big winner? Will film icons Cicely Tyson (The Trip to Bountiful) and Tom Hanks (Lucky Guy) capture their first Tonys for their performances?
Viewers will have to tune in on Sunday, June 9, to find out (the show airs on CBS at 8 p.m.) But two lucky men—both legends in the Boston theater community—have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve already won a Tony. Peter DuBois, artistic director of the Huntington Theatre Company and Michael Maso, Huntington managing director and a College of Fine Arts School of Theatre associate professor, will accept the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award on behalf of the Huntington, which recently completed its 31st season.
Bestowed each June, the Tony Awards, administered by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, honor the best work performed on Broadway. They also recognize a US nonprofit regional theater company that has demonstrated a continuous level of artistic achievement.
The American Theatre Wing’s citation announcing the Huntington’s selection says the company “brings together world-class artists from Boston, Broadway, and beyond,” and notes that the company “has gone above and beyond by mentoring playwrights in the Huntington Playwriting Fellows program, educating young people in theatre, and providing Boston-based companies with discounted audience services and facilities.”
Founded by Boston University in 1982 under the vision of the late John Silber (Hon.’95), who was then BU president, the Huntington has transferred 16 productions to New York, most recently the Broadway premiere of Stick Fly, by Lydia Diamond (GRS’09), a CFA assistant professor, and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet, both in 2012. The Huntington has received four Tony nominations for plays it helped to transfer to Broadway—including three August Wilson (Hon.’96) premieres—The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, and Seven Guitars. The fourth nomination was for The 39 Steps.
“It’s really great for us,” says DuBois of the award. “It’s something that recognizes where we’ve been as well as affirms where we’re going. We’ve been focusing a lot more on developing new works that will have a long life beyond the Huntington. We’ve made a real effort in developing artists from our own backyard.”
In addition to mounting a full season of professional productions each year, the company runs an educational program for 30,000 high school students. After funding and building the two theaters that make up the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts in 2004, the Huntington now serves 40 different local theater companies a year that lease the space. It also supports a two-year residency program for emerging writers. And while the Huntington legally separated from BU in 1986, the two institutions remain closely bound: BU leases the BU Theatre’s main stage to the Huntington rent-free and provides about 2 percent of its annual operating budget. In exchange, the Huntington provides numerous training opportunities for the University’s theater majors.
“The founding of this institution was a vision of Boston University,” says Maso. “This award is a recognition that that trust by the University was well placed.”
The Huntington will launch its 32nd season in September with the world premiere production of The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories set in the Indian jungle and Walt Disney’s animated film of the same name. The musical will be produced in association with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and is being adapted and directed by Tony winner Mary Zimmerman, who directed the Huntington’s 2011 production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide.
Three BU alums are up for 2013 Tony awards. Frederick Zollo (CAS’75) is nominated as a producer in both the best play and best revival of a play categories for the new Nora Ephron drama Lucky Guy, starring Tom Hanks, and a revival of Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, starring Alec Baldwin. Also nominated are producers Jon B. Platt (CGS’74) in the best play category for The Testament of Mary and Allan S. Gordon (LAW’65) for best musical for Kinky Boots.
Find a complete list of the Huntington Theatre Company’s 2013–2014 season here.